Saturday, March 16, 2013

One Foot in the Pile

             A Yankee lineup that already has diminished power compared to last year's roster took a turn for the worst when two of their best sluggers, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, suffered injuries that will delay their season debuts till May. During the first spring training game of the 2013 season, Granderson took an inside pitch off his right hand which caused him to have to leave the game. X-ray results later on revealed a broken bone in the hand that will require two months of healing before he can return to the team. The only silver lining is that the injury occurred so early in spring that Granderson should only miss April, but without the proper preparation time its a strong likelihood Granderson's bat will struggle out of the gate.

             Mark Teixeira was selected to join Team USA for the MLB Network produced sitcom entitled "2013 World Baseball Classic". Before Teixeira was able to represent his country, he had a wrist sprain which is projected to keep him out of action for about 8-10 weeks - pinning his return for mid-May, at best. GM Brian Cashman's concern has to be Robinson Cano coming out healthy while he currently plays second base for the Dominican Republic squad. The Yankee front office told the media they have broken their traditional rule of not dealing with players or managers in the final years of their contracts by making a substantial to Cano, who is in his final year of his Yankee deal. With the money the Dodgers are throwing around like candy, the Yankee brass is doing everything they can to prevent the best overall second baseman in the game from slipping away via free agency.

             To make up for the loss of Ibanez, who returned to Seattle, Cashman took a chance on the often-injured Travis Hafner. To keep the lefty power hitter healthy, its certain he'll solely be used as a DH so he doesn't pull a groin or something going after fly balls in the outfield. With an outfield that doesn't display much power, and now with Granderson out till May, the Yankees also brought in former Tigers young hopeful Brennan Boesch, recently dumped by Detroit. There were also whispers about the Yanks showing interest in Derek Lee as a short-term solution to Teixeira's absence at first base, but so far those have only proven to be rumors. Another Derek, Derek Jeter, played in his first game since breaking his ankle in the playoffs and attacked the first pitch he saw for a single. Initially Girardi slotted Jeter in as a DH, but a few games later Jeter took the field at his usual shortstop position and so far has shown no ill-effects from the ankle. Jeter claims he'll be good to go by opening day.

             Another long-serving Yankee returning from a season-ending injury, Mariano Rivera, made the announcement Yankee fans have been dreading to think about for years - this will be his final season! Rivera mentioned he wanted to leave after last year had it not been for the freak injury in Kansas City that tore his knee and ended his 2012 season very early. Instead of having an unfair lasting image of the greatest closer of all time being wheeled out on a cart, Rivera vowed to return in 2013. Later that day on which he made the announcement, Rivera saw his first real game action since hurting his knee in May and caused one pop-up and had two strikeouts in an inning of work. Rivera's health will be magnified as a result of losing Soriano to the Washington Nationals. Rivera's backup is officially David Robertson, who struggled last season when he was initially handed the closer's role. Either way, they'll never be another Rivera.

             The full Yankee lineup hasn't been on display yet this spring with Cano playing for the Dominican team, with the Granderson and Teixeira injuries, and with Jeter slowly getting back into the swing of things (not to mention A-Rod gone till after the All-Star break - if he even does come back this season). David Phelps has looked great in his starts so far, but he's likely to assume the role he had last season of middle relief and spot starting in cases of injury to the starting staff. Phil Hughes experienced back pains which has slowed his appearance on a mound this spring, but he's finally started a throwing regiment. Cashman and Girardi have been giving the minor league position players alot of playing time on the big stage, but so far nobody is making a strong case for themselves as a the sure answer for the Granderson-Teixeira losses, which explains the Yanks bringing in Boesch as an outfield candidate.

              It's going to be a long April.....